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Defining Game Mechanic

Started by M. J. Young, December 22, 2004, 10:16:17 PM

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M. J. Young

Over in">Ramblings on the role of Mechanics in CA's (fishing), somewhere on the second page,
Quote from: Jay a.k.a. SilmenumeMy understanding is that a mechanic is a specific feature of system and system is the means by which events are established into play.
I think there's a disconnect here, and I'd like to put forward a clarification. I note that
Quote from: In The Provisional Glossary RonMechanics

   Individual and specific features of System; Mechanics in text form are "rules."
I like that a bit better, but I'd like to try to clarify the concept of a role playing game mechanic in the context of what I think is our generally improved understanding of how role playing games work.

A role playing game mechanic is a structured interaction between two or more authorities to support the credibility of statement in the shared imagined space.

For example, rolling dice to hit in D&D uses the authority of the randomly generated number plus the authority of the to hit tables to produce support for the statement that a character did or did not hit a target. Similarly, in Multiverser, that same roll of the dice combines with numbers from character papers and world information to produce support for the same conclusion (there being no chart to consult).

At present I cannot think of a mechanic that uses a single authority, but there might be one.


--M. J. Young


I like this.

For a while, I've been saying that there are three things for an RPG's rules to coordinate: the imaginary stuff in the game, the real-world interactions of the players, and real-world tokens or representations like dice and numbers and words on a character sheet. Informally, I've been defining game mechanics as rules which include the real-world tokens or representations. Rules which don't include them are, then, non-mechanical.

I think our definitions agree.

(I don't think "two or more" is necessary, but it's not important.)